V. THE AUTHORITY OF PRAYER
As the position of prayer is ascension, the authority of prayer is also ascension. With the position of prayer there is the authority of prayer. Whatever a Christian does is not only a matter of power, but even more, a matter of authority. For example, when preaching the Word you need not only power but also authority. This is true of some who pray before God. They not only have power but also authority, for they are in the heavenly position.
People often say that in prayer you need to remove sins, to have faith, and to hold on to God’s promise. But gradually you will see that these do not always work. You may have been full of faith, yet God did not bring what you prayed for to pass. You held on to God’s promise, yet the promise also failed. If you are willing to learn some lessons of prayer, you will gradually be able to see that it is not a matter of believing or holding on to the promise; rather, it is a matter of seeing the position of prayer through God’s visitation. You will then be able to perform the task of prayer in the heavenly realm. At this time, your prayer is a prayer of authority. It is not a matter of your believing or holding on to the promise, but it is that you have the position and the authority to perform this task. God has no alternative but to approve such prayer, and He surely will approve it.
When you arrive at this place, you will know that there are certain things for which you cannot pray, because God does not allow you to do so. The most you can do is to discuss such a matter with God, saying, “O God, may I pray for this matter? If You will, please bring it to pass.” You must not say, “O God, You must do this, for I have laid hold of Your promise.” Why is it that at times when you pray in this way, no answer comes? It is because God has not given you that promise. This is not only a matter of dealing with sins or confessing your wrongs, but a matter of asking: where are you? what is your nature? and what kind of atmosphere are you in? If you are in the realm of the heavens, I am certain that eight out of ten of your prayers will be eliminated, for they are unnecessary, and you will not be able to pray them. You know that they are not the things for which you should pray in such a standing.
There is hardly anything else that demands from us more than prayer. Only in prayer can you see clearly what you are, what your condition is, and where you are. Generally, in other circumstances, you have no way to find out where you are, but once you are in prayer, you may discover that you are altogether outside the heavenly realm. For this reason, when one first believes in the Lord, he dares to pray for anything; but later, the longer he has been following the Lord, the narrower is the sphere of his prayers and the less bold he is in prayer. He dares not to pray for this and he dares not to pray for that. The more you grow in the Lord, the more you will realize that prayer has its position and sphere. In such a position and within such a sphere there can be such an authority.
(Lessons on Prayer, Chapter 17, by Witness Lee)